NATO airstrike: US accepts responsibility for mistakes
WASHINGTON (PAN): Hours after the US Department of Defense and NATO announced that its forces had committed mistakes on the Afghan-Pak border on November 26, the White House accepted its responsibility and vowed to address trust deficit with Pakistan.
Pakistani military on Thursday rejected the conclusions of a US investigation into the NATO airstrike that killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers last month along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
US officials, unveiling the results of their investigation into the incident that has enraged Pakistanis, said both sides were to blame and said the soldiers’ deaths were partly rooted in miscommunication and misunderstandings.
“We accept responsibility for the mistakes we made,” Caitlin Hayden, spokesperson, National Security Council, White House told Pajhwok Afghan News.
“The President was briefed on the report in the past several days,” Hayden said. “With the investigation complete, our focus is to learn from the mistakes that were made and take whatever corrective measures are required to ensure an incident like this is not repeated,” she said.
Hayden said that it will now work to improve the level of trust between the United States and Pakistan. “More importantly, we will work to improve the level of trust between the United States and Pakistan countries. We cannot operate effectively on the border -- or in other parts of our relationship -- without addressing the fundamental trust still lacking between us,” she said.
The White House official said the US has expressed its “deepest regret” over the loss of life and the lack of proper coordination between US and Pakistani forces that contributed to those losses.
“We express our sincere condolences to the Pakistani people, to the Pakistani government, and most importantly to the families of the Pakistani soldiers who were killed or wounded,” she said.
The US investigation conducted by a top commander from the US Central Command concluded that the tragic incident occurred due to lack of co-ordination between the US and Pakistani forces. At the same time it asserted that the strong fire by the Pakistani forces was the catalyst for the incident.
However, the US State Department refused to offer apology or say sorry for the incident; which is a key demand of Pakistan in the aftermath of the November 26 incident.
“I think "We regret" speaks to a sense of sympathy with the Pakistani people -- I mean, in this case, but more broadly with the people affected by any incident or tragedy; and, speaks to the fact that we're accepting responsibility for any of our actions that may have contributed to it,” the State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, told reporters at his daily news conference.
“I don't know -- an apology… you can figure that out for your own. I can only say what we are trying to express with this investigation,” Toner said when reporters repeatedly asked why the US was not using the term apology, which has been a major demand of Pakistan.
The United States conducted this investigation in a very transparent manner, he argued. “We found culpability on both sides of miscommunications, errors, … a lack of trust that led to this incident. We have expressed our deepest regret, but we've also accepted responsibility for the mistakes that were ours,” Toner said.
“We are owning responsibility in that regard, so that speaks volumes about our desire to move beyond this and to squarely, I think, tackle some of these issues that prevent the smoother coordination across the border,” Toner said.
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